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Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect

Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect

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Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect

valutazioni:
4/5 (3 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
292 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
May 1, 2009
ISBN:
9781441204981
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

This inviting book addresses the questions and concerns of newer believers and will inspire those looking for a refresher on what it means to be Christian. Wherever the readers are in their faith journey, they'll find their questions addressed with biblical, theologically sound answers written in an engaging and conversational style.

The easy-to-use format allows readers to identify and find their most pressing faith concerns. At the same time, when read in its entirety, Being Christian provides a solid topical introduction to Christianity. Relevant Bible passages are used throughout the book to enhance the reader's understanding of how Scripture informs its answers. Among the subjects discussed and deeply explored are God, the Bible, the church, sin, what it means to be saved by grace, how to discern God's voice, how to deal with guilt, and much more.

Designed for use by individuals, it's also a great resource for small groups and new believers' classes
Pubblicato:
May 1, 2009
ISBN:
9781441204981
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Stephen Arterburn is a New York Times bestselling author with more than eight million books in print. He most recently toured with Women of Faith, which he founded in 1995. Arterburn founded New Life Treatment Centers as a company providing Christian counseling and treatment in secular psychiatric hospitals. He also began “New Life Ministries”, producing the number-one Christian counseling radio talk show, New Life Live, with an audience of more than three million. He and his wife Misty live near Indianapolis.  

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Being Christian - Stephen Arterburn

A thoroughly comprehensive and refreshingly engaging primer on foundational Christian tenets. Readers from across the spectrum of Christian experience (newbies, veterans, and seekers alike) will find this biblical question-and-answer format compellingly practical. Although it is written from an evangelical perspective, other Christians will learn from it, too, and appreciate the authors’ clear approach. . . . Arterburn and Shore further enhance their excellent guide with wit, humor, and gentle pokes at the church’s foibles. Whether individuals are just wondering about God or serious in their religious pursuit, this book is a valuable resource.

Publishers Weekly

"Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect, Arterburns’s latest offering, written with coauthor John Shore (I’m OK—You’re Not), pushes the author into new territory. The work is written as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) book on faith, a veritable primer of theology for the layperson. . . . Arterburn and Shore write in a conversational, humorous voice, but deliver solid content. Being Christian will benefit new believers as well as veterans of the faith."

Christian Retailing

STEPHEN

ARTERBURN

AND JOHN SHORE

BEING

CHRISTIAN

EXPLORING WHERE

YOU, GOD, AND LIFE

CONNECT

Being Christian

Copyright © 2008

Stephen Arterburn and John Shore

Cover design by Lookout Design, Inc. / Paul Higdon

Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations identified NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE,® Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN 978-0-7642-0642-5


The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Arterburn, Stephen, 1953–

Being Christian : exploring where you, God, and life connect / Stephen Arterburn and John Shore.

p. cm.

Summary: A comprehensive introduction and guide to Christianity includes core truths, information, and insights for those new to the Christian faith or curious about it, presented in a combination of narrative chapters and question/answer chapters— Provided by publisher.

ISBN 978-0-7642-0426-5 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Christianity. I. Shore, John, 1958– II. Title.

BR121.3.A78 2008

230—dc22

2008028253


To Sharon Barnes,

who has shown me, my daughter Madeline,

and all of us who work at New Life

what being Christian looks like.

During good times and bad,

no matter what, just being Christian to those

fortunate enough to know her.

—Steve Arterburn

To my wife, Catherine,

who every day shows me what it means to live

with God’s love.

—John Shore

He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Hush, be still. And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.

And He said to them, Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?

They became very much afraid and said to one another, Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?

—Mark 4:39–41 (NASB)

Contents

Introduction

SECTION I: GODInside

Chapter One: God and You

• What’s the single most important thing I would have to believe in order to officially qualify as a Christian?

• What exactly is the Holy Spirit?

• How does it make sense that God is at once Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

• What does saved by grace mean?

• To what do the words born again actually refer?

• How do I know that God loves me personally?

• Does God have a plan for me?

• How do I deepen my relationship with God?

• What’s the best thing to constantly tell myself in order to always remember my true and proper relationship to God?

• What is prayer?

• How do I pray?

• Do I have to be pure before I can come before God?

• Should I say grace before every meal?

• What’s it mean when my prayers go unanswered?

• How do I discern the presence of God around me at any time?

• Why does God allow evil to exist?

• Why does God allow natural evil—earthquakes and disease and so on—to exist?

• How do I keep believing in God after what seems to be a senseless tragedy?

• If God is real, why doesn’t he once and for all just prove it?

Chapter Two: God, You, and Others

• What should my attitude be toward Christians whose ideas or understanding of Christianity is different from mine?

• What is the Great Commandment—and what makes it so great?

• How do I do the Great Commandment?

• How can I possibly live up to the standard prescribed in the Great Commandment?

• What is the Great Commission—and what makes it so great?

• Do I need to evangelize the nonbelievers in my life?

• What should my attitude be toward the nonbelievers in my life?

• Once I’m saved, how definite must the break be between my old life and my new life?

• What if my spouse or a family member isn’t Christian?

• How do I respond to others attacking my newfound faith in Christ?

• Does being a Christian mean I have to forgive everyone who’s ever done anything bad to me?

• Do I have to pray for my enemies?

• How can I increase my compassion for other people?

• Is part of being a Christian having to act toward others with more kindness than I actually feel toward them?

• How can I learn to act toward others with more kindness than I actually feel?

• Is there such a thing as being too kind?

• What do I do if I’m in a bad relationship?

• How do I best understand, or deal with, fallen Christian leaders?

• How do I best understand, or deal with, fallen fellow churchgoers?

Chapter Three: Everyone: Sin, the Human Constant

• What is sin?

• What is original sin?

• Why is it important that Christians confess their sins?

• Why is repentance so important to me?

• What is the atonement of Christ?

• Why is Christ’s resurrection so important to me?

• Why is pride considered such a primary and dangerous sin?

• Is it possible for me to stop behaving in sinful ways?

• Is there any sin that’s beyond forgiving?

• Will being a Christian help me get rid of my bad habits?

• What can I do about the guilt I harbor for something I did wrong?

• How can I tell if something I’m doing, or thinking about doing, is the right thing to do?

• What’s wrong with dressing sexy?

SECTION II: GODOutside

Chapter Four: The Bible

• What exactly is the Bible?

• To what do citations such as Matthew 1:20–21 refer, exactly?

• What is the Old Testament?

• As a Christian, do I need to care about the Old Testament?

• Who are some of the main/most important people in the Old Testament?

• Why is asking the next natural question—Who are some of the most important people in the New Testament?—like asking why it’s so much fun to drive an airplane?

• How much time passed between the Testaments?

• What is the Pentateuch?

• What is the Septuagint?

• What is the Vulgate?

• What is the Apocrypha?

• Is Jesus Christ a first and last name, like Bob Jones or Chester Finklehockendocken?

• What are the Gospels?

• What’s a parable?

• Why are there so many different kinds of Bibles?

• How do I know which Bible is the right one for me?

• What’s a Bible concordance?

• What’s a topical Bible?

• What’s a devotional?

• Is reading the Bible important to my spiritual growth?

• What’s the best way to read the Bible?

• Should I join a Bible study group?

Chapter Five: The Church

• Why is it important for me to go to church?

• Why is the church considered the body of Christ?

• How do I find the right church for me?

• How big an impact does its pastor’s personality usually have on a church?

• What’s the organizational structure of most churches?

• Why are there so many Christian denominations?

• How many people belong to each of the main Protestant denominations?

• What is a non-denominational church?

• What’s a mega-church?

• What’s an evangelical Christian?

• What’s a fundamentalist Christian?

• What is speaking in tongues?

• What is the laying on of hands?

• What is baptism?

• What’s a church small group?

• Should I join a small group at my church?

• What’s a liturgical church?

• What is a church year?

• What’s a lectionary?

• What are the sacraments?

• What is tithing?

Introduction

Are you curious about Christianity? Have you recently become aware of the feeling that God’s hand is upon you, that he is ever so gently guiding you toward accepting the truth that some two thousand years ago he really did manifest himself on earth as the man known to history as Jesus Christ? Has something inside been urging you to ignore all that our ever-manic media has been yelling at you about Christianity this week, and to instead find out for yourself what eternal truths Jesus might be waiting to offer you?

If that’s where you are, we hope you’re excited about what you sense God is saying to you these days.

Or maybe that’s not exactly where you are. Maybe you’re a little further down the road. Maybe you’ve already taken a firm hold of the Lord’s hand; maybe you’ve already given yourself to the one whom you know gave himself for you. Maybe, because of your new relationship with him, you’re in that thrilling, blessed phase of every believer’s life where all you want to do is get to know the Lord better and better every day.

Or, conversely, perhaps you’re at the end of a period in your life that began when you started to feel you knew him a little too well—when you got bored or restless with God, and as a result sought solace and substance in pastures that at the time seemed greener but turned out to be no fun at all to play in. Perhaps you’re just now emerging from the spiritual malaise and/or existential doubt that can sometimes overcome even the most devout of Christ’s followers. Maybe now, like the prodigal son himself, you’re wanting to return to the arms of the Father, who has never for a moment stopped loving you.

Perhaps none of the above describes you. Perhaps you’re someone who has loved the Lord for a long time, who has not wandered away from Jesus, but who’s feeling in need of a recharge in your appreciation and enthusiasm for him. Maybe you’re just burned out on religion and are simply looking to have the fervent immediacy of your love for Jesus rejuvenated.

Wherever you happen to be along the believer’s continuum— earnestly curious, recently committed, suddenly saved, lapsed but returning, devoted but seeking reinvigoration—this is the book for you. Because while it’s true that different people have different spiritual needs at different times of their lives, everyone always has the same four basic spiritual needs: for answers, for guidance, for confirmation, and for inspiration. Here’s how we believe this book satisfies all four.

Answers

We asked a lot of people, and did a lot of thinking and praying, in order to come up with the questions about Christianity and its attending issues that we feel even the most experienced believers sometimes want answered. Being Christian is not a primer on Christianity; however, it does ask and answer a wide array of the faith’s most basic and core questions. Thus you will discover that our response to each inquiry, while always being (if we daresay so ourselves) straightforward and clear, is also informed by all the depth of feeling and thought that the Lord brings to any who believe in, study, and sincerely seek him.

Such questions as How do I deepen my relationship with God? and What if my spouse or family member isn’t Christian? and How can I increase my compassion for others? and How do I keep believing in God after what seems to be a senseless tragedy? might seem simple—and of course, in their way, they truly are—yet countless books have been written on those and similar other simple questions. Here, we demonstrate how the questions and answers we’re putting forward are both simple and complex. It’s our hope that by treating them as such we’ve succeeded in making of them what we most desire them to be, which are catalysts for a more rewarding understanding and a more direct experiencing of God.

Guidance

Figuring that doing so would pretty thoroughly cover it, we divided this book’s questions into two main sections: GOD Inside, and GOD Outside. The Q and A’s found under GOD Inside are subdivided into three chapters: God and You, God, You, and Others, and Everyone: Sin, the Human Constant. The Q and A’s found under GOD Outside fall within two chapters: The Bible and The Church. This structure allows you to locate as quickly as possible (via the Table of Contents) whatever question happens to be most immediately on your mind, and it facilitates the book being readily modified or personalized for the study needs of any individual or group.

Beyond that, we sought to make this book a guide for the enhancement of your relationship with God through two means. First, we made sure the responses to our questions combine two sorts of material: factual and spiritual. It’s easy enough to answer questions in a way that satisfies the intellect; we sought to provide answers that at the same time serve to guide you toward the source and substance of all knowledge. Second, we used the questions themselves as a means of spiritual guidance. In this sense, Being Christian is most assuredly not Christianity for Dolts. What exactly is the Holy Spirit? and Why is repentance so important to me? are question-types that lend themselves to answers able to illuminate the mind and the heart. We sought to provide answers that do both.

Confirmation

It is our belief that at some level of their being everyone who asks a question about Jesus already knows the answer to that question. We believe that the singular challenge of all persons— believers, nonbelievers, doubters, and anyone else anywhere in between—is to strip away everything within them that stands between themselves and their full and (we believe) inevitable love of Jesus. We are certain that people can’t help but sense everywhere around and within them the constant, steady, and majestic presence of God.

We believe that in a very real sense, then, people are less interested in knowing what they don’t know than they are in having definitively confirmed for them what they very strongly want to know, which is that God is as real as real gets, and that Jesus Christ was and is God come to earth as a man in order to sacrifice himself as an atonement for their sins. Without in any way shortchanging anyone’s intellect or ability to reason, we answered each question with an eye toward affirming the innate knowledge of God we assumed would most likely have been quickened in the soul of anyone asking that question in the first place.

Inspiration

In the final analysis, belief in the reality of God is a dramatic leap from the comfort of the staid, everyday life of our mechanistic world to the blessed free-fall that comes from knowing that God has your back, front, side, top, and everything in between. Something has to spark one’s appreciation of God to go from the theoretical to the actual, from thinking or even hoping that God is real to knowing that he is. It is of course our deepest hope that through the power of the Holy Spirit, our words might at some point provide the catalytic flash that transforms one who is seeking into one who has found. And we’re confident that if anything we’ve written here ever does happen to trigger such a magnificent occurrence, it will have as much to do with what we didn’t write as with what we did.

We know that you can point someone toward God, but you can never push anyone into a relationship with him. Ultimately, faith is a willful leap, and there’s no leap without space between origin and goal. Throughout this book we’ve endeavored to bear in mind that oftentimes the best way to honor the end result of the greatest leap of all is to honor the integrity of the space it must overcome.

We sincerely hope that through its questions, answers, and the way in which they’re organized, Being Christian will become for you a means of further understanding and/or discovering your relationship to God. Its purpose is to call you beyond itself; to inspire you to enhance your relationship with God through study, prayer, and reflection; to more freely love and engage both the believers and nonbelievers in your life; to better comprehend and deal with sin; to more regularly and effectively engage God through the glory of his Word; and to help you become an active, informed member of a church in which you feel nurtured, excited, and challenged.

Whoever you are, and wherever you find yourself on the path toward God, we invite you to come with us, as together we move ever closer to the one from whom we all came, and to whom, if we but believe, we will one day gloriously return.

SECTION I

GODInside

CHAPTER ONE

God and You

Because God, faith, and church can all seem like so much to handle, it’s easy to forget that the only thing that really matters is your relationship to God the Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. That relationship is the deepest and most personal you’ll ever experience. So let’s spend some time talking about what it means to say and know you’re a Christian.

What’s the single most important thing I would have to believe in order to officially qualify as a Christian?

As we’re sure you know (but on the very off chance you’re not perfectly clear on it), there is no single set of beliefs to which all Christians uniformly agree. There’s no regularly updated Register of All Christians kept anywhere, no membership card we’re encouraged to laminate and keep with us at all times, no sticker or decal every believer is supposed to stick on his or her car, truck, minivan, or skateboard. There’s nothing like that at all. There’s just . . . people, walking around with a lot of different ideas in their minds and hearts. So we

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